Four hundred years ago Galileo Galilei developed a telescope that forever changed our views of the heavens— literally and philosophically. This new special interest tour explores the man and his achievements through the Smithsonian lens of scientific discovery.

Starting at: $5,395 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The iconic Duomo of Florence  The Florence Duomo at night  Venice

In the Footsteps of Galileo

8 days from $5,395

Four hundred years ago Galileo Galilei developed a telescope that forever changed our views of the heavens— literally and philosophically. This new special interest tour explores the man and his achievements through the Smithsonian lens of scientific discovery.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei’s discoveries shook the foundations of science during the later years of Europe’s Renaissance and opened new doors to scientific understanding. On this specially arranged tour, discover Italy’s most important Galilean landmarks, including Pisa, his birthplace; Padua, where he discovered Jupiter’s moons; and Arcetri, where Galileo spent his last years under house arrest and wrote his most seminal work. Ascend the steps of the campanile in Piazza St. Marco, and, using replica telescopes, see how Galileo demonstrated his telescope. Visit the 800-year-old university where Galileo taught and made many astronomical discoveries, gaining an unparallel insight into his world. Walk in his footsteps as you tour Santa Maria Novella, where his theories were first attacked from the pulpit and come full circle as your visit Santa Croce, where his remains are entombed.

Highlights Include

  • Venice: Ascend the steps of the campanile in Piazza St. Marco, and, using replica telescopes, see how Galileo demonstrated his telescope. Travel to nearby Murano where the astronomer obtained glass for his telescope lenses and learn about the art and science of glass-making during a special tour of the Seguso glass studio (est. 1397).
  • Padua: Visit the 800-year-old university where Galileo taught and made astronomical discoveries. Gain insight from astronomical exhibits at La Specola Museum and view the world’s oldest anatomy theater.
  • Florence and Arcetri: Take an in-depth tour of the Museo Galileo, featuring some of his personal instruments, letters, and important texts. Follow in Galileo’s footsteps during a walking tour that includes Santa Maria Novella, where his theories were first attacked from the pulpit, and Santa Croce, where his remains are entombed. In nearby Arcetri, enjoy exclusive access to the Villa Il Gioello, where he spent the final years of his life under house arrest and wrote his most seminal work. Plus, take an exclusive tour of the Arcetri Observatory followed by an evening of stargazing.

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. for Venice

Arrive in Venice and transfer to your hotel. Relax and settle in before meeting your fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for an evening welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3 — Galileo’s Padua

After breakfast, depart the hotel for a day of excursions in Padua. Visit La Specola Museum and discover fascinating exhibits of lifelike models of human anatomy. Next, head to Palazzo Bo, the Renaissance palazzo and elegant anatomy theater at the 800-year-old Padua University, where Galileo taught and made early astronomical discoveries. After lunch in a historic cafe in the city center, take a guided walking tour following in the footsteps of Galileo’s Padua.

Return to Venice and the hotel for a lecture with your Smithsonian Journeys expert. The evening is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 4 —The Telescope and Glassmaking

Begin with a trip up the iconic campanile (bell-tower) of St. Marks, where Galileo demonstrated his telescopes to the Senate of Venice. Using replica telescopes, view his demonstration and learn how telescope lenses are crafted to magnify distant objects. Board a water taxi to the island of Murano to learn about the art of glassmaking at the Seguso studio on a private tour.

After lunch at a local Murano restaurant, journey to Florence. Gather for a lecture, followed by the evening at leisure. (B,L)

Day 5 – Pisa and Its Tower

Travel to Galileo’s hometown, Pisa, and visit the Piazza del Duomo, a World Heritage site that is considered one of the finest architectural city centers in the world. Tour the Duomo, Baptistery, Camposanto (cemetery) and, of course, the legendary Tower of Pisa. That famous tilt happened five years after construction began in 1173, and was incorporated into later stages of the building, which took another 170 or so years.

Explore other sites in and around the square on your own before gathering to return to Florence and the hotel. Your evening is on your own. (B)

Day 6 — A Day of Art and Science

Explore the fabulous Uffizi Gallery, one of the world’s oldest and most famous art galleries, home to Michelangelo’s “David” among other masterpieces. Later, pass by the 14th-century Convent of San Mateo, where Galileo’s daughters entered the order of the Poor Clares.

Visit Villa Il Gioiello (subject to confirmation) for exclusive access to the place where the persecuted scientist spent the final years of his life under house arrest. It was here also that he dictated his “Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems,” the book that lays out the difference between an Earth-centered system and a Sun-centered one and that became fundamental for modern scientific pursuits. Take an exclusive tour of the Arcetri Observatory and view the Tuscan night sky. Dinner will be at a typical trattoria. (B,D)

Day 7 – Galileo’s Florence

Take a walking tour of Florence in the footsteps of Galileo, to view some of the places he once lived, now private residences. At Santa Maria Novella — Florence’s first great basilica and the city’s principal Dominican church — see where the great astronomer’s theories were first attacked from the pulpit. Inside the church of Santa Croce see his tomb, featuring the moons of Jupiter that he discovered.

Next to him lies his favorite daughter, Maria Celeste. Spend the afternoon at the Institute & Museum of the History of Science. View Galileo’s compass, telescope, and microscope and learn how these instruments influenced his discoveries.

This evening, gather for a farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 8 – Depart for the U.S.

Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for individual flights back to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)